CBI chief Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana have been sent on leave in the latest development in a massive war within the country’s top investigating agency. M Nageshwar Rao will take over as interim director.
Nageshwar Rao, a 1986 batch officer, supersedes Rakesh Asthana and was joint director.
He will “look after duties and functions of director CBI and shall take over the duties and functions with immediate effect,” said a government order put out last night.
In an unprecedented move, the offices of both Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana have been sealed and all officers working with the CBI director have been sent on leave. The 10th and 11th floor of the CBI office in Delhi, which has the rooms of all these officers, are being raided, say sources.
The government’s order followed a recommendation by the country’s top vigilance officer, Chief Vigilance Commissioner, that the CBI’s warring top two be sent on compulsory wait, stripped of all responsibilities.
Sources say Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed with the recommendation.
The move caps week-long turmoil that began with chief Alok Verma filing a case against his deputy, accusing him of bribery in an investigation.
The opposition has accused the government of trying to protect Rakesh Asthana – a Gujarat cadre officer dubbed the Prime Minister’s “blue-eyed boy” by Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
Alok Verma cannot be removed before his two-year term, said the opposition.
Rakesh Asthana yesterday took the CBI to court, asking for the charges to be cancelled and for protection against arrest.